Siege of Meaux
The siege of Meaux was fought in 1421-1422 between the English and the French during the Hundred Years' War. The English were led by King Henry V. Henry became ill while fighting this long battle, which took place during the winter months. He died on 31 August as a result.
|Siege of Meaux|
|Part of the Hundred Years' War|
|Commanders and leaders|
|King Henry V||Bastard of Vaurus|
|more than 24,000 men||1,000|
|Casualties and losses|
|more than 6,000 men||heavy|
Henry had returned from England in June 1421 with 4,000 troops, and he set off immediately to relieve the Duke of Exeter at Paris. The capital was threatened by French forces, based at Dreux, Meaux, and Joigny. The King besieged and captured Dreux quite easily, and then he went south, capturing Vendôme and Beaugency before marching on Orleans. He did not have sufficient supplies to besiege such a large and well-defended city, so after three days he went north to capture Villeneuve-le-Roy.
This accomplished, Henry marched on Meaux with an army of more than 20,000 men. The town's defense was led by the Bastard of Vaurus, by all accounts cruel and evil, but a brave commander all the same. The siege commenced on 6 October 1421, mining and bombardment soon brought down the walls.
Many allies of King Henry were there to help him in the siege. Arthur III, Duke of Brittany, recently released from an English prison, came there to swear allegiance to the King of England and serve with his Breton troops. Also Philip III of Burgundy was there but many of the Duke's men were fighting in other areas: In Picardy, Jean de Luxembourg and Hugues de Lannoy, master of archers, accompanied by an Anglo-Burgundian body attacked, in late March 1422 and conquered several places of Ponthieu and Vimeu despite the efforts of troops of Joachim Rouhault Jean Poton de Xaintrailles and Jean d'Harcourt while in Champagne, Count Vaudemont was defeated in battle by La Hire.
Casualties began to mount in the English army, including John Clifford, 7th Baron de Clifford who had been at the siege of Harfleur, the Battle of Agincourt, and received the surrender of Cherbourg.[unreliable source] Also killed in the siege was young John Cornwall, only son of famous nobleman John Cornwall, 1st Baron Fanhope. Young John Cornwall was only seventeen when he was killed at the siege of Meaux. He died next to his father, who witnessed his son’s head being blown off by a gun-stone. The English also began to fall sick rather early into the siege, and it is estimated that one sixteenth of the besiegers died from dysentery and smallpox while thousands died thanks to the courageous defense of the men-at-arms inside the city.
As the siege continued, Henry himself grew sick, although he refused to leave until the siege was finished. Good news reached him from England that on 6 December, Queen Catherine had borne him a son and heir at Windsor.
On 9 May 1422, the town of Meaux surrendered, although the garrison held out. Under continued bombardment, the garrison gave in as well on 10 May, following a siege of seven months. The Bastard of Vaurus was decapitated, as was a trumpeter named Orace, who had once mocked Henry. Sir John Fortescue was then installed as English Captain of Meaux Castle.
By this time, Henry was quite ill. Shortly after the siege, while en route to Cosne-sur-Loire, he found himself unable to ride, and had to be carried to Vincennes, where he arrived on 10 August. Henry V died at Vincennes 31 August 1422. He was thirty-six.
- Barker 2010, p. 41.
- Histoire de Charles VII, tome 1, Année 1403-1422 de Gaston du Fresne de Beaucourt
- "CLIFFORD". Tudorplace.com.ar. Retrieved 1 October 2017.
- As the 1638 Fortescue mural monument in Weare Giffard Church, Devon, relates. Vivian, Lt.Col. J.L., (Ed.) The Visitations of the County of Devon: Comprising the Heralds' Visitations of 1531, 1564 & 1620, Exeter, 1895, p.352 "Sir John Fortescue, Captain of Meaux in temp. H 5"
- Seward, Desmond (1978). The Hundred Years War. New York: Penguin Books. pp. 186–187. ISBN 0-689-10919-9.
- Barker, Juliet R V (2010). Conquest : the English kingdom of France in the Hundred Years War. London: Abacus. ISBN 978-0-349-12202-1.